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Southwest booking new route to Florida beaches

Yesterday's post on AirTran reminded me that I had yet to post about Southwest Airlines' new flights to the Florida Panhandle. The announcement came around the holidays and it totally slipped past me. My apologies. But better late than, like, never.

Beginning May 23 (too late for spring break), Southwest will operate two daily flights from Baltimore to Panama City Beach, part of the Panhandle region named among the top 10 destinations for 2010 by Frommer's. Southwest's 737s will fly into Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) - a brand new airport that comes online in May. The airport replaces and relocates what used to be the Panama City-Bay County Airport. The project is designed to be the nation's greenest airport, utilizing sustainable materials, no-irrigation required landscaping and a LEED-certified terminal.  The airport will be served by Delta and Southwest. Flights in late May start at $109 each way.

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Southwest made several changes for its May schedule, which was released last month. They brought back nonstop coast-to-coast flights from Baltimore to Los Angeles and Seattle. The Cranky Flier has a good post about the sked and how it reflects the jockeying between AirTran and Southwest. It's all fine by me - a little competition gives travelers more options and lower fares.

Surf's up at St. Andrews Park in Panama City Beach as a storm approaches. Associated Press Photo (2008)

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